Department of Neurological Surgery, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA; Applied Physics Laboratory, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA; Division of Engineering and Mathematics, University of Washington, Bothell, WA, USA. Electronic address: [Email]
We used diagnostic ultrasound imaging to guide individual bursts (0.1 s) of 2 MHz intense focused ultrasound (iFU) to determine the sensitivity of intact and transected nerves. We found that all nerves had greater sensitivity to iFU stimulation than surrounding muscle. Intact nerves from healthy volunteers had less sensitivity to iFU stimulation (272 ± 35 W/cm2 [median ± standard error]) than transected nerves (19 ± 37 W/cm2). Intact, contralateral nerves of amputees dichotomized naturally into two groups-one very sensitive to iFU stimulation (6 ± 2 W/cm2) and one relatively insensitive (539 ± 19 W/cm2), compared with the intact nerves of healthy volunteers. Our study demonstrates the ability of iFU under ultrasound image guidance to stimulate deep, intact and transected peripheral nerves. It also highlights differences in the receptivity to ultrasound stimulation of the peripheral nerves of amputees versus healthy volunteers.